Xiaomi is often referred to as the Apple of China, but the company’s most recent batch of product announcements serves as proof that it actually has more in common with Samsung than Apple. Whereas Apple is known for releasing a handful of products at a time, Samsung releases dozens of products across a number of different categories, something Xiaomi is doing as well. Xiaomi has already released a bunch of smartphones this year, but that didn’t stop it from unveiling yet another new handset at its Grand Finale event this morning, as well as a new tablet and air purifier to add to its rapidly growing list of products.
Xiaomi unveiled a phone today for only US$140 that has a fingerprint sensor: so you can unlock it just like the owner of a fancy iPhone. Yet Xiaomi’s most expensive phone, which starts at US$280 and goes all the way up to US$485, doesn’t have a fingerprint sensor. How does that make any sense? Xiaomi started out with one model of phone – called Mi – that it updated after one year (to, well, Mi 2). It was a minimal line-up that partially explains how the Chinese startup got branded the “Apple of China.” But a few years on, Xiaomi sells multiple versions of about half a dozen separate phone models. On top of that it has five sizes of smart TVs, four router models, several battery packs, two wearables, lots of different earphones, teddy bears, T-shirts, and more recently a suitcase. Yes, a suitcase. Oh, I forgot the Xiaomi fanny pack. Xiaomi’s line-up is not quite at a Samsung level of clutter, which resembles the neighborhood hoarder who lives with 27 dogs amid a ton of rotting newspapers, but it’s getting there. Adding to today’s confusion over the fingerprint sensor, the launch of the Redmi Note 3 comes just three months after the Redmi Note 2. People who recently bought the Redmi Note 2, reasonably expecting a 12-month product cycle, might not be too pleased to see that their phone has been replaced so quickly with so many new features for the same price.